Journal of Professional Nursing

Reflections on politics, policy and power

He whakaaro mō te ao tōrangapū, ngā kaupapa here, me te mana

Jill Clendon, RN, PhD, Associate Director of Nursing and Operations Manager for Ambulatory Care Nelson Marlborough DHB, NZ

Reference:  Clendon J. (2019). Reflections on politics, policy and power [Editorial]. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 35(1), 4-6. 

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In early 2017, I started work as a Chief Advisor in the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer (the Office) at the Ministry of Health (MoH). The role of a Chief Advisor is to provide high quality, strategic and operational advice, leadership, analysis and recommendations in support of the design, delivery and implementation of policies, priorities, service delivery and programmes of work. In the Office this advice is, naturally, related to nursing.  In early 2018, I stepped up to act as the Chief Nursing Officer while the Ministry went through a period of change including the appointment of a new Director General and a restructure of the senior leadership team at the Ministry of Health. During my time as Acting Chief Nursing Officer, nursing in New Zealand went through a period of intense turmoil due to a prolonged period of negotiation for a new multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for District Health Boards (DHBs) culminating in strike action. Because MECA negotiations are between DHBs and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), the Office can have no involvement. However, two aspects of the fallout from the negotiations did fall to the Office.  The response of the Office to these, while only one of the many facets of the work undertaken by the Office, does make an interesting case study of the complexities of the work the Office does. In this editorial, I thought I would share some of what happened and what some of the learnings from this were.